Saturday, December 28, 2013

The main reason for coming here was to see my high school friend who works here, who didn't work the day I went. The second reason for coming here was because I bought a Groupon for Hapa Izakaya before this summer, and never got the chance to go because I was away on my Asia trip.

When I came back, Hapa was closed because of the flood that happened in Toronto, and I only got to go visit when it re-opened. We went for a early Sunday dinner, during their Hapa Hour: 1730-1900, which offers a selection of their tapas at half the price, but we couldn't order those because we already had a 50% off Groupon. 

Hapa Izakaya on Urbanspoon

Tuna Salsa served with plantain chips

We all liked this fingerish food: the finely chopped up tomato, tuna, avocado, seaweed, and tangy vinaigrette all spooned up on a crispy chip. Very good for sharing because I was already fed up with it after 2 chips cause I'm not a chip fan. 

Crab Tempura Roll

Spicy Baja Roll

There's pork belly in this roll. And cheese, and chili. But with all that rice and spiciness, I didn't really taste the pork belly at all. Maybe this would be better if it was just "Spicy Baja"

Renkon Gyoza Tempura

Thin slices of lotus root sandwiching a very flavourful nced pork mixture, tempura'd, and served with a ponzu or yuzu (I really don't know the difference between the two that well) soy sauce. I would order this again because it's not something I would cook on my own as it requires deep frying.

Hapa Hot Wings

Before eating at Hapa, I read a few reviews, and most reviewers didn't enjoy these wings much. The wings are of a larger than most wings place size, and deep fried with a thin crispy, spicy batter which I liked. The chilli-soy sauce was thick, and upped the otherwise plain chicken wings.

Pork Ishiyaki

Many elements in this hot stone bowl: miso marinated minced pork, Chinese chives + flower, tomato, lettuce, all topped on a bed of rice and topped with a miso spiked gochujang and egg. The pork, seasoned heavily with miso and cooking wine, went extremely well with the chives. If the tomatoes (which were warm by the time you mix it, let it rest, and eat it) were to be substituted with chopped fresh kimchi, this dish would get a 10 (out of 10) from me. 

Ankimo - Smoked Sea Fois Gras

I've been wanting to eat Monkfish liver ever since I saw it on food blog A Life Worth Eating - it looks so delicious and the blogger's description confirmed it. When I saw the little cup of layered greens, beige, white, and orange, my heart sank, but I had to give it a try anyway. I would've liked this to be presented differently, and not in a cup where I had to struggle to pick a bit of everything in a spoon to eat in one bite. But the liver itself? Was rich and everything I had dreamed of it to be. I would be fine if they didn't serve this with the seaweed, ponzu jelly, daikon, lettuce, and tobiko.

Halibut Taco

Need I say more? Despite what you answer, I will however, say more. A flaky halibut with lettuce, red onions, and other things wrapped in a panini'd tortilla. Served with a lemon wedge that seems to appear on nearly every dish we order.

 Kobe Beef 

The beef is fully cooked and served on a sizzling hot plate (see the steam?) - good for those who don't like it medium rare. The dipping sauce is ponzu tinged.

Kinoko Ishiyaki

Our waitress asked if we wanted an egg with this dish (because it doesn't originally come with an egg), and I said "Yes". This rice is for those who enjoy teriyaki sauce and the deep taste of sauteed mushrooms *raises hand*

Kabocha Pudding

Very creamy texture, with an obvious kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) flavour, which we all really liked. 

Kinako Panna Cotta

Soybean flour panna cotta. It is much softer and smoother than other panna cotta's I've tried, but the kinako is not special enough for me to want it again. 

Upon walking inside, the dim, relaxing atmosphere sucks you towards a candlelit table, where you can easily hold a conversation with those around you without the "Pardon me?" and shouts from across the table (as you would have to do in Guu). 



The girls I live with love sashimi. After Julie discovered a fish market that distributes sashimi grade salmon and tuna to all the Japanese restaurants in Waterloo, we've been getting a weekly dose of salmon sashimi.

 This is how I attained nicer skin - by eating so much fatty salmon

We specifically ask for a cut that is near the belly (contains thick layers of fat where the fat to flesh ratio is basically 1:1). And since I'm the one slicing up the sashimi, I always eat up the belly parts, or the most melt-in-your-mouth-like-butter parts, while I'm cutting it, offering some to the girls as well. Which leaves the fleshier parts to the plates on the dinner table. 

Happy Holidays dear readers!